A bit about Japanese rubber stamps

A bit about Japanese rubber stamps

* Image from NHK-world.

We're fans of rubber stamps at HOW and we keep adding more to our papercraft supplies. In Japan, they are a "thing". But why?

What you see today - decorative designs from illustrators and graphic designers - is the latest iteration of tradition which dates thousands of years and has now merged with the re-emergence of crafting and handmade.

Here's a short history of the personal seal or hanko.

The use of the personal seal or "hanko" is standard for adults in Japan. The small narrow ink seals are used as a signature, particularly with offical documents and contracts. There are the ready made and the custom-carved, officially registered "jitsuin" used for more formal contracts or official engagements.

The use of the hanko was thought to have come from the middle east, when symbols were carved in an object and then stamped on possessions to label them and claim ownership.  You can read about it here. 

Stamping with the hanko is such a ubiquitous part of work and office life that Covid threw this paper-based practice into a tailspin . There really was no electronic replacement for a person physically stamping documents as this article in the Japan Times reveals

Like many habits we've had to change during Covid, this article in Time explains the friction of continuing with traditional practice when contactless is a new way.

Photos by @glencarrie

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